Council falling short of its own service targets

SOUTH Kesteven District Council has fallen “significantly” short of many of its own targets for delivering services to the public.

The district council set itself 45 targets in the areas it felt were the most important - customer service, business, quality living and quality organisation - but failed to achieve almost half.

The figures show council staff take an average of 10.72 sick days each per year. Given the council employs around 700 staff, it means 7,504 days have been lost due to sickness in a year.

A spokesman for South Kesteven District Council denied there was a sick-day culture at the council.

The spokesman said: “As responsible employers we do monitor sickness levels within the authority very closely and like everyone else we have been a victim of seasonal viruses like the flu.

“Over the past year we have also had a number of long term illness and “planned” operations.”

The sickness days at the district council are disproportionately in favour of those in manual labour positions, rather than office workers.

The spokesman said: ”We are also a diverse employer and employ both office and manual workers. On average office based teams have less than five days sick per employee.

“Our sickness levels are in line with all other Lincolnshire based authorities.”

The council set itself the target of a maximum of one per cent of its council homes being classed as “non-decent” but instead recorded 32.9 per cent.

A spokesman for the council said since the figures were gathered, the council has improved the standard of council homes, cutting the figure from 32.9 per cent to 9.7 per cent.

The council’s planning woes have continued, falling woefully short in five out of six planning targets, mainly for not processing applications fast enough.

A spokesman for SKDC said: “Time is an important factor, but equally we have to ensure that the decisions made are the right ones. We have recently completed a review of development control and are implementing a revised system of working.

“In this revised system 99.9 per cent of major planning applications and 61.88 per cent of all other applications are being dealt with within the required time period.”

In 2009 the council sacked a senior planning officer but has refused to reveal the reasons.

While missing targets in numerous other areas including answering calls from the public within 28 seconds and percentage of local suppliers paid within ten days, the council has also had successes.

The spokesman said: “Our dry recycling rates are in the top five in the country. We also exceeded our target for the number of affordable homes delivered.”

l Why do you think SKDC is failing to reach its targets? E-mail: comment@granthamjournal.co.uk